During the 19th and 20th centuries the relative stability of work offered through Ashington’s coal mining industry attracted economic migrants from across the UK and
beyond. Ashington grew from a small hamlet to ‘the biggest pit village in the world’ and became a new ‘hjem’ for many thousands of people.
Frustrated by current media bias towards people seeking asylum in the UK, Jamie decided to return to his hometown to explore and help share the stories of some of the most recent migrants to Ashington; those seeking sanctuary. Jamie became actively involved with the Northumberland County of Sanctuary (NCOS) a local, volunteer-led charity that has welcomed and supported asylum seekers being settled in the county since 2016.
Under UK law nearly all asylum seekers are disallowed from working and instead rely on state support of as little as £6.43 per day. During his time spent working with the NCOS community, Jamie re-lived the simple pleasures of his childhood summer holidays, but with new friends. This included trips to the beach and birthday parties, cooking and sharing meals around different tables, and viewing his own culture and place of origin with fresh eyes.
“This body of work shares the stories of refugees, asylum seekers and local volunteers, but really it’s a film about hospitality and kindness, showing people creating joy and looking forward to the future rather than being asked to focus on the past.”
‘Hjem’ is an exchange of care and culture, capturing the importance of community and how simple acts of kindness can help people feel at home.
‘Hjem’ has been made possible by funding from Arts Council England, The Rebecca Vassie Trust Memorial Award and Northumberland County Council.